86 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
One cannot be free without being independent; hence, in order
to attain independence, the active manifestations of personal liberty
must be guided from the earliest childhood. Little children, from
the moment when they are weaned, are travelling along the
hazardous road of independence.
What is meant by a weaned child? A baby who has become
independent of the mother's breast. In place of this single nourish-
ing breast he will.be able to choose from a hundred dishes of
soft stuff, that is, his means of existence is extended; he will even
be able to choose his * pap/ whereas at first he had been limited
to a single form of nutriment.
Yet he is still dependent, because he is unable to walk, cannot
wash or dress himself, cannot ask for what he wants in intelligible
language; he is the slave of everybody. At the age of three,
however, the child should have made himself to a great extent
independent and free.
We have not yet realized properly the lofty conception of
independence, because the social conditions in which we live are
still servile. In a period of civilization in which servants exist,
the conditions cannot nurture the idea of independence, just as in
the days of slavery the idea of liberty was obscured.
Our servants are not our dependents; rather are we their
dependents. It is not possible to tolerate in a social structure so
.radical a human error without its leading to general effects of moral
inferiority. We very often think we are independent because no
one gives us orders or because we give orders to others, but the
man who is dependent on a servant is dependent on his own
inferiority. The paralytic who cannot lift his shoes owing to a
pathological cause, and the prince who cannot lift his because of
a social idea, are practically in the same condition.
The people who admit servitude, who believe that it is to the
advantage of a man to be * served * in everything rather than be
'helped' by another, regard servility as,an instinct. In fact, we
are very ready to rush to serve, as if we were likely to fail in perfect
courtesy, politeness or kindliness.